Indian Astronomical Observatory

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    • India’s first dark sky reserve is set to come up in Hanle, Ladakh, by the end of the year.

    About Indian Astronomical Observatory

    • Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO) is one of the world’s highest observatories. 
    • It is located at a height of 14.8k feet in Hanle, Ladakh.
      • It will come up within the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary
      • Ladakh is also ideal for long-term observatories and dark-sky sites because of its large arid area, high elevation, and sparse population
      • The Department of Science and Technology and Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) in Bengaluru is providing support for the facility.

    How many such reserves exist in the world?

    • A dark sky reserve is only one of the designations given by the IDSA, others being international dark sky parks, communities, reserves, sanctuaries, and urban night sky places. 
    • At present, there are 20 dark sky reserves around the world, seven in the United Kingdom; four in France; two each in the USA and Germany; and one each in New Zealand, Canada, Namibia, and Australia.

    What is a Dark Sky Reserve?

    • The International Dark Sky Association (IDSA) defines an international dark sky reserve (IDSR) as a public or private land of substantial size (at least 700 km², or about 173,000 acres) possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment, and that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment. 
    • A dark sky reserve requires a “core” area that has a clear sky without any light pollution, which can enable telescopes to see the sky in its natural darkness.
    • To support the core, it should be surrounded by a “peripheral” or “buffer” area that supports dark sky values in the core while receiving the same benefits.

    Other Observatories in India

    • Solar Observatory in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu
    • Vainu Bappu Observatory in Kavalur, Tamil Nadu
    • Gauribidanur Radio Observatory in Bangalore, Karnataka
    • Udaipur Solar Observatory in Udaipur, Rajasthan

    Source: TH